Anett. Polina Soyref, portrait photographer

Anett, 28, program manager

interviewed on 28 May 2020

It was a difficult transition for me to move to home office because I was a very office person, and I'm more social: I gather a lot of energy from other people.

My job is managing a European program for volunteers who come to Estonia to do different kinds of work in the social sector. When it started, it was difficult for them: because they were in a new place, they couldn't see their family, they couldn't go home because there were no flights out. There were a lot of sad emotions there, and you have your own sadness, and sometimes it was difficult to deal with it, to be supportive like «Yeah. It all's going to be fine!» when you didn't know if it was going to be fine.

At some point, I stopped watching the news as much and just tried to be further away from it. We have a lot of memories — I'm 27, so I have 27 years of memories — and the cool thing that happened was it opened up some space in my head for things I hadn't thought of before, things from my childhood that I never remembered before. Because there was a lot more headspace at one point and I was so much with my thoughts, I remembered some trips with my parents that I hadn't before or some things from high school that I hadn't thought about. We usually have so many things around us that these things can disappear, but that time it seems it opened up some kind of Pandora's box in my brain.

It was a good and a bad thing because when you're spending so much time alone, you are alone with your thoughts, it can be a super cool journey, or sometimes you have to deal with scary things. There are things about which people think, «I don't want to remember this» — and these things creep in so much easier during the lockdown. So I understand that a lot of people were struggling with mental health during that period because you had to face all of that, you didn't have anything to distract yourself. At the same time, it was such a cool lesson. I think a lot of people also came out stronger from it because they had no choice — you just had to deal with it.

The funny thing with the volunteers was: when they were doing fine, they were feeling super-guilty for it. I also sometimes felt that enjoying that time was a bit controversial because you should be feeling a bit guilty about it. It's so controversial to feel good about some of that time.

“Tell me your story”